Feature   Know Your Military

Air Guard Wing Opens Airman, Family Readiness Center

Nov. 23, 2020 | BY Air Force Tech. Sgt. Emily Moon

The 142nd Wing Airman and Family Readiness Center officially opened its doors at Building 355 on the Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon, Nov. 8, 2020.  A small ceremony was held during the November drill weekend to mark the occasion.

This move comes as the final step in the wing's effort to build a robust, ready and able resiliency team to serve the airmen of the 142nd Wing.

It's the right thing to do, to take care of our families, and it is a direct correlation on readiness."
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Brent Cavanias, command chief, 142nd Wing

After spending several years building up a resiliency team to help our 142nd Wing organization, finding a place to house all of its members became a bit of a challenge. The various team agencies have moved around so many times that it felt like a game of musical chairs. The different office spaces were simply not adequate enough to meet the needs of  the staff and the airmen. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Brent Cavanias, 142nd Wing command chief, worked closely with the team to find solutions. Ultimately, Air Force Col. David Unruh, 142nd Wing commander,  made the decision to put the team in their own building.

"Active duty already has designated centers for their airmen," Cavanias said. "We are trying to do the same."

In the past, the wing has faced difficulties in maintaining a full-time family programs office.  Unlike active duty Air Force and Air Reserve bases who maintain a full, dedicated office of civilian and military staff, the guard has faced challenges helping its airmen through a family program which consists of one civilian and sometimes, if available, another military professional. This made it difficult to support airmen and their families with any possible issues. Now that the team has their own space to work out of together, they can pull their resources to better focus on wing members and the needs of their families.

A jet is obscured by fog.
Display Aircraft
A static display of a F-15C aircraft sits obscured during the early morning at Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore. The mixture of fog and smoke from local wildfires created hazardous air quality and limited visibility.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexander Frank
VIRIN: 200912-F-WT152-292Y

"It's the right thing to do, to take care of our families, and it is a direct correlation on readiness. If things are not going well at home, they're probably not going to go well at work," Cavanias said.

The resiliency team consists of Family Programs, Yellow Ribbon, the Chaplain Corps, Department of Psychological Health, Sexual Assault and Resource Center, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and Personal Finance.  

Although the team was mostly located together in the wing's headquarters building, no one knew where each office was or where the rest of the team was located around base. Finding a designated space to hold all the agencies seemed to be impossible until the potential of Building 355 was realized. Finding a building that could accommodate the resiliency team, as a whole, was a game changer according to Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Amy Almond-Shmid, who works as the 142nd Wing Family Program manager and human resources advisor.

Service members and loved ones pose in front of a readiness center.
Readiness Center
Members of the 142nd Wing Resiliency Team pose for a photo at the Airman and Family Readiness Center during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore., Nov. 8, 2020. The center provides a new location for airmen and their families to find the resources they need.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Emily Moon
VIRIN: 201108-Z-GI695-0004Y

"Being in the same building makes perfect sense for a resiliency center, having access to all of the resources in one place," Almond-Schmid said. "And now we can easily point people in the right direction or just walk them over to the person they need."

Relocating everyone to Building 355 proved helpful in bringing the team together and will help reduce airmen's time in finding individual agencies.

"The team cohesion will really help support our airmen, show the base that leadership values these programs by creating a center for it, and aid in increasing our readiness capability in the future," Almond-Schmid said.

Plans are underway on creating a general positive interaction between the resiliency team and its wing members overall. The team has been hard at work creating a family-friendly environment, holding various training events to offer new courses, hosting key volunteer meetings, and being a place for members to find volunteer opportunities to help their fellow airmen.

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Emily Moon is based at the 142nd Wing.)